7 Essential Gym Fitness Center Marketing Strategies to Acquire New Members

Acquiring new members is a key goal for the great majority of gym owners. Then, converting those members into loyal customers is the next step. Given the competition in the fitness industry, gym owners might find it tough to acquire new customers. Ultimately it boils down to the fitness center marketing strategies for gyms that would help a gym stand out from the competitors.

Let’s check out Gleantap’s recommended strategies for marketing your gym.

7 Best Marketing Strategies For Gyms For 2021

Here we discuss 7 essential gym marketing strategies to get new faces through your club’s doors and convert them to loyal members for years to come!

1. Co-market with a Complimentary Partner

Don’t overlook the power of partner marketing events.

They can help you boost brand awareness and market your gym to a wider audience.

By leveraging your partner’s network, you’ll gain free exposure to a demographic that may be very interesting in your gym but would not have heard of it otherwise!

I recently visited one of my favorite strength training studios for an early Saturday morning workout. As I begrudgingly walked through the doors, I noticed that a local wellness studio was hosting an event.

They were giving out complimentary B12 shots to class-goers for the day.

The gym members, myself included, were delighted to get a free energy kick prior to the workout. After the workout, we got to learn more about the types of wellness injections and supplements offered by that studio and their health benefits.

As you can imagine– a number of purchases were made that day.  This was the first time that several other class-goers and I had heard of the wellness studio.

Hosting a free event was a slick way for the studio to gain exposure to their target audience– wellness-focused individuals in the area.

What’s more, I asked about and took note of the next free B12 shot event here and then invited several friends to should join me for a workout at the studio the next time that perk was offered again! This is a win for the strength training gym.

How can you learn from this successful co-marketing event?

Read on to find out.

Identify your Ideal Partner

First, you’ll want to ensure that your partner doesn’t directly compete in your space.

Think about what products or services are complementary to those that you offer, and explore a partnership there.

For example, if you own a HIIT gym, working with a supplement or heart rate monitor company could be interesting. If you run a yoga studio, then a CBD oil brand or yoga mat business could be complimentary.

Promote your Event!

Plan your event, then invite members, prospects, and their friends. 

Hosting events is a powerful way to promote a feeling of community at your gym. With this in mind, you’ll want to ensure you’re marketing your event to the target audience, and allowing them to invite their favorite people to join!

Social interaction also affects overall member satisfaction; 70% of club members who had made new friends through their membership self-identified as club “promoters” rather than club “detractors.” – IHRSA

One way to do this is by using Facebook Events. You can easily raise awareness, gain exposure, and distribute information about your event. As people accept your invite, you’ll also have the added benefit of getting a rough head count of who’s coming.

Marketing strategies

2. Free Passes = the Gateway to Memberships

Let’s talk about an easy way to not only collect prospects’ information while hardly lifting a finger while also offering them a perk they will love!

Once inside your gym, you can sell prospects on all the wonderful services you have to offer.

The first step is to get them through your doors.

Automate Deals for Prospects

Inbound keyword fitness center marketing campaigns can help you do both of these things.

The advertisement will read something along the lines of: “Limited Time Offer: Text GETFIT & your email address to 99999 for a complimentary 10-day pass & kick start your summer bikini body!”

As curious and eager prospects text in, you’ll have automatically collected their phone number and email address into a prospects list.

From here, your smart customer engagement platform will auto email them a 10-day pass that they can redeem at their local studio.

Using inbound keyword campaigns to get new faces in the door can work like a charm.

And Gleantap can help you set this up for promotions you can run throughout the year– all automatically.

The nice thing about collecting information this way is that you can retarget these individuals on Facebook or Google display ads when you have new promotions or events they might be interested in.

Advertise Locally

“Where can I advertise my limited-time free training offer”, you might ask?

Well, you’re in luck because you have plenty of options. And depending on the nature of your business, some avenues may work better than others.

Golds gym case study

Here are a few ideas!

Social media marketing is a no-brainer.

You can post the offer on your Facebook page or as an Instagram story/ Instagram post to go out to your existing followers.

Next, remind your followers that they can share the offer with their friends by tagging them.

Additionally, you can use Facebook ads to target users who are not necessarily following you or members of your gym.

Going back to what we talked about with partner marketing…

Another key way to advertise in person is to co-host local events & promote your offer there.

Perhaps there is a music festival or conference in your city that could benefit from a free offering of 30 minutes of yoga.

Not only would offering a free class allow your studio to get its name out there and show off how talented your instructors are and get people excited about your services, but you can also hand out business cards with your inbound keyword campaign offer.


An extra tip:

Whether you’re extending your free training offer via social media or in-person events, don’t waste your time targeting prospects who are not local.

Some gyms make the mistake of advertising nationally, which results in lost money. When crafting your gym marketing strategy, it’s smart to ensure that you are targeting only individuals who are in proximity to your club.

3. Craft an Effective Referral Program Driven by Data

You might have already heard that the majority of consumers trust word of mouth more than company advertising.

“92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising”. –Nielsen

How can you leverage this staggering stat to your advantage?

By setting up a referral program that drives new memberships and keeps existing members incentivized to continue referring their favorite friends!

How do you keep your existing members incentivized to refer their friends? You offer them perks that they want to receive.

Tools to Tease out Winning Incentives

This is where staying in the know with your members on what types of perks they prefer is key.

The beauty of 2-way SMS

Through leveraging 2-way SMS texting, you can open up a dialogue with your members and learn what gets them most excited by asking them directly.

Effective use of SMS can be a game-changer for gyms, large or small.

Glean Data on Preferred Incentives from A/B Tests

Additionally, Gleantap allows you to A/B test a variety of offers with your members to see which offers perform best.

Whether your campaigns are offering your referring members a month of free membership or a merchandise goody bag, you can A/B test the offers and see which one wins.

Since your gym is likely not similar to the gym down the street, its ideal to test what incentives work best for you and then craft your referral program strategy based on the data.

Gym With Referral Program

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4. Challenge your New Clients to Keep them Engaged

Research suggests that 50% of [those] starting an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months -Wilson & Brookfield

If you’ve found yourself here reading this post, you’re aware that higher engagement reduces their odds of cancellation. But by how much?

The 2017 IHRSA report claims, “reaching out to a member—whether by phone, email, text, or social media—more than doubles the likelihood that they will be a “promoter” rather than a “detractor.”

Reaching out to new members via SMS, email, or chatbots to invite them to join an ongoing fitness challenge could be a great way to build rapport.

This will also get them excited about their new fitness journey.

Why not automate a fitness competition campaign that new members can opt into to encourage them to build healthy habits.

By auto-identifying when they are coming in to work out, you can send weekly or biweekly check-ins via SMS to let members know they’re on track.

(Psst: Gleantap can help you automate these event-based check-ins to save you time.)

By setting up campaigns that target these members with fitness challenges, you can help engage them during that critical time before drop off occurs.

5. Got Updates? Spread the Word!

We know you get excited when you’ve upgraded your pilates reformers!

Don’t you think your prospects might be curious to learn this too?

Perhaps they’re debating between your studio and a competitor. Your new gym equipment could sway their decision.

How about your canceled members? Some of them might be considering how to get back in shape now that they got a promotion and can afford a gym membership again.

Either way, you should get the word out about any club updates that could excite potential members.

Announce this via email to your prospects or canceled members, so as to remain compliant with TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).

Don’t forget about your existing members, though! The members who may have been regular for weeks and then had a week as no-shows could use a gentle nudge reminding them to pick back up.

6. Fitness Teasers

What fitness center marketing tool is notoriously underutilized?


You’ll notice that the most successful businesses use video in their marketing. Take notes here. Your gym marketing strategy will not be complete without it.

Successfully Use Video in Your Gym Marketing Strategy

You can pump up your followers across social media platforms with quick teaser videos of your most loved classes or offerings.

Feature your most popular kickboxing class with high energy music!

Or even a group training session of synchronized deadlifts!

Whatever it is you decide to post, ensure that it the content is in line with your fitness club’s branding. Remember: you’ll want to feature your club in a way that allows prospects to know what they can except.

If you’ve crafted a club aesthetic that is centered around wellness and healing, use calming music and colors. If your HIIT club is high energy and intense, make sure that is conveyed in your video. Being cohesive with your fitness center marketing and actual service offering will ensure that you are driving the right prospects to your club, and ultimately converting them into loyal members.

From there, your prospects might be inspired to post their own workout videos tagging your club for all their friends to see!

Hello, free social media marketing!

7. Chatbots Can Compliment your Gym Marketing

Our final tip for you today is all about chatbot marketing.

The possibilities of chatbots for gyms are nearly endless! Not only do they provide 24/7 support so your members are never left without an ear to listen, but they’re also incredible marketing tools.

We know you have lots of fans. Chances are they follow and “like” you on Facebook.

If you’ve established yourself as a credible source of fitness, wellness, or exercise science news, then you can share your expertise with avid fans. Here and there, you can sprinkle in a special offer or incentive to get your fans who are prospects to convert to members.

Chatbots allow you to target prospects who like you on Facebook and to send them special offers. Since we know that Facebook messages have an open rate of ~80%, according to Hubspot, then why not utilize this widely-used platform to engage with members and prospects?

Must Read: How to Take Your Gym Online During the COVID-19 Shutdown

There you have it!

You can use any of these gym marketing strategies today to complement your existing campaign and successfully boost new member acquisition and existing member retention. And if you are looking for a product that can help you up your customer acquisition game, Gleantap is your way!

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